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Introduction to Conservatism

Posted by maker on February 27, 2009

This is maker’s contribution to our friends at TruPolitics for their Conservatism vs. Liberalism debate.

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending to small a degree of it.”
-Thomas Jefferson


As a young man, I remember listening to my father as he spoke of the world, man, and how things worked, with a fascinated reverence for this thing called Conservatism. Awe would tighten his voice as he told of the seamless way that this ideology worked with and through the strengths and weaknesses of man.  What my dad grasped, and passed on to me, is that conservatism is the only line of thinking that allows for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is the only way for us to connect with and uphold that which the Founders had in mind. Conservatism is a deep breath. It is a pause to consider what we can glean from history and how best to apply these lessons to the situations and dilemmas facing us today. Where liberalism demands action, and action now, conservatism prescribes a tempered consideration of the past, present and the potential futures, before acting. Take, for example, our current administration and their saber rattling reaction to the mere mention of deliberation or debate, on a ‘stimulus’ package deemed by some of its most ardent supporters as only 70% likely to succeed, at best.

Liberty is at the core of conservatism. A love and defense of liberty fuels the entire philosophy. You won’t hear liberals speak of liberty very often, and for good reason. Liberty sits in direct opposition to the policies of the left. For the ideals of liberalism to be implemented, the people must willingly or unwittingly surrender an increasingly large portion of their liberty. As a matter of fact, the overwhelming majority of liberal ‘accomplishments’ are demonstrable attacks on liberty in the name of growing a ‘benevolent’ government. You see, from the left’s vantage point you don’t and can’t know what is best for your life, so you need the government to intervene on your behalf. Conservatism says that government can never know the best interests of its citizenry, or provide for them, nearly as well as an unencumbered free people can themselves.

The fundamental differences between liberalism and conservatism pertain to the preferred size of government. Liberals: the bigger the better. Conservatives: less is more. These views have a direct causal relationship with the amount of liberty the citizens are afforded. Conservatism recognizes and encourages the goodness that man can achieve without placing faith in the mythical idea of man being inherently good. Where liberalism seeks to control and stifle people for their own good, conservatism seeks to set free and embolden people to pursue their best interests autonomously.

Conservatism looks to free market capitalism as the only historically viable economic environment for freedom, while liberalism stubbornly places its faith in systems proved fatally flawed by history. Conservatism seeks in all things to preserve the framers intent for this country to limit the size and scope of government while ensuring the freedom of the common man. The Constitution was developed to this end, and has shaped our nation into the greatest the world has ever known. Conservatism views this greatness as something to be preserved and defended against the eroding effect of liberalism’s continual creep towards socialism.

Practically, what better time than now to look at the issue of taxes? Conservatism and liberalism line up reliably as supportive of lower taxes and higher taxes, respectively. More and more, liberals are admitting that their desire to tax the wealthy is less focused on government revenue than it is on ‘fairness’ or ‘leveling the playing field.’ Conservatives advocate lowering taxes across the board, and especially encouraging small and large business growth through lowered corporate tax rates. Liberals want to exponentially raise taxes on the top two tax brackets in an attempt to, as President Obama famously said, “spread the wealth around.” But, as Dr. Adrian Rogers said, “You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom… [y]ou cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.” The inconvenient truth here is that, historically, government revenues increase as tax rates decrease and decrease as they increase. If you continue to raise taxes on these individuals, you discourage growth, job creation, and investment. If you cut corporate tax rates, you create an environment of productivity for a flourish of businesses that provide the jobs and products that Americans depend on. In this way conservatism embraces logic, the laws of economics, and liberty in a free market society.

There are countless ways that conservatism opposes the ill-formed and damaging ideas of the left and seeks to preserve what is right and good; that which we value most, by proposing time-tested solutions that honor the laws of nature and man. Conservatism perseveres despite the disadvantages of a Republican Party that has become more betrayer than advocate, a seemingly endless barrage of mischaracterizations by a hostile press, and an increasingly entitlement-friendly society. The place in a person that takes pride in hard work, relishes freedom and demands equal justice under the law is, on some level, inexorably drawn to conservatism.

Consider Jefferson’s notion above. This is the choice between left and right, liberal and conservative, tyranny and liberty.

8 Responses to “Introduction to Conservatism”

  1. A's momma said

    I think that it was important to point out Conservatism’s drawing on past, present, and future vs. Liberalism’s focus on the here and now. The Constitution is often forgotten in liberalism’s well-meaning frantic attempt to remedy the ills of society.

  2. Mike said

    Just passing by. Btw, your website has great content!


  3. donrusso said

    We are excited about your efforts to propel the grass roots movement of conservatism. We are looking forward to having you guest on our show.

    Don Russo
    Garage Politics

  4. […] for a good explanation of what conservatism is about this speech is for you.  It ties right into Maker’s post on the definition of conservatism.  I’m not really going to focus on the speech itself in […]

  5. Randy said

    Ok so you say conservatism is all about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    I am a moderate Democrat. Some of the the social issues Republicans believe in I also believe in but I am going to play devils advocate a bit and get your opinions on things. So from the conservative point of veiw how do social issues fit into the picture?

    Conservatives are not in favor of gun control I know, but where do true conservatives stand on the likes of abortion and gay marriage. Again to play devils advocate, isn’t saying that two memebers of the same sex can’t get married, isn’t that big government intruding on peoples rights to chose?

    I ask this not to start a fight but I want to know where you are coming from.

  6. maker said


    I would submit that social issues vary in their degree of importance for conservatives. I believe that for the most part they are all clearly addressed in the constitution, if not explicitly than at least in the way we should approach and address them. The emphasis of this approach being liberty.

    I believe that the Federal Government should have very little involvement in much of the social dilemmas facing us today. The people as always should choose. This should start at a very local level and, for the most part, end at the state level.

    These are obviously hotly contested issues and I am only speaking for myself. But I believe that conservatives as a whole are much more nuanced in their stances on these issues than people realize. I am not against all gun control, but I realize that gun ownership is a critically important right and one that can protect us should the first amendment be attacked. I believe that current law regarding abortion is unconstitutional. Why were the people not consulted on such a weighty issue? This is another area I believe should be handled on the state level. Gay marriage is a very complicated issue to discuss and could easily require it’s own series of articles. I am absolutely supportive of civil unions and extending some of the privelages under civil unions. I am, however opposed to gay marriage. The unfortunate thing about this debate is that republicans have bought into the liberal ‘all or nothing’ framing. Instead of offering an alternative and explaining it republicans are simply saying no. This is not the government intruding at all, quite the opposite. It would be intruding to say that all men must honor homosexuality as an acceptable and moral choice. Would churches be allowed to refuse services for gay marriage if it was legal? What about their beliefs? It is an alternative life style and as Harvey Milk himself said it doesn’t need to conform to the social structures it has set out to contradict in the first place. There is something ironic about it.

  7. Good article. My favorite line is, “conservatism is a deep breath”, and so it is. Also, you brought up great points about same sex unions. It will be interesting to see at the end of the day, who actually contributes to government intrusion more. Public opinion aside, Conservatives are lazier on this issue than democrats are, and I tend to think their all or nothing attitude you spoke of is going to win the day. The liberation of one demographic will lead to the bondage of another.

  8. good thoughts on both sides.

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